In Los Angeles the weather doesn’t change much with the seasons. So how do we know when it’s summertime? It’s concert season at The Greek Theatre. Time for another ticket giveaway at one of my favorite venues.
One lucky Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend reader will win a pair of tickets to see Andrew Bird and Sharon Van Etten, at The Greek Theatre LA , Sunday August 12. Here’s what you need to know to enter:
The contest begins now and ends at 11:59pm EST August 7, 2012
Chicago-based film score composer, multi-instrumentalist and lyricist Andrew Bird picked up his first violin at the age of four and spent his formative years soaking up classical repertoire completely by ear. As a teen Bird became interested in a variety of styles including early jazz, country blues and gypsy music, synthesizing them into his unique brand of pop. Since beginning his recording career in 1997 he has released 11 albums, his first solo record Weather Systems coming in 2003. Bird has gone on to record with the Preservation Hall Jazz Band and perform at New York’s Carnegie Hall. Most recently Bird composed his first ever film score for the movie Norman (hailed as “a probing, thoughtful score” by The New York Times; available now on Mom + Pop), contributed to the soundtrack of The Muppets and collaborated with inventor Ian Schneller on Sonic Arboretum, an installation at New York’s Guggenheim Museum and Chicago’s Museum of Contemporary Art.
Bird is touring in support of his latest album, Break It Yourself. Produced by Bird, Break It Yourself was recorded at his barn in Western Illinois near the banks of the Mississippi River.
Over the course of releasing three full-length albums celebrated by fans and critics, alike – Because I Was In Love (Language of Stone; 2009), epic (Ba Da Bing; 2010), and now Tramp (Jagjaguwar, Feb. 2011), the Jersey-bred/Brooklyn-based Sharon Van Etten has affected a multitude of hearts and minds over the past couple of years. Tramp, a stunning album nuanced in a language of striking rock, minimal beauty, and pious strength, showcases an artist in full control of her powers. Over the last several years, Van Etten has opened the Pitchfork Music Festival, played Bonnaroo, Sasquatch, The Hollywood Bowl, Radio City Music Hall, sung on new albums by Beirut and Ed Askew, collaborated with Justin Vernon and Megafaun.
For “official” information about The Greek Theatre, you can check out their website, but here’s my take: The Greek Theatre is one of my all-time favorite music venues. Start to finish, The Greek Theatre is an EXPERIENCE! You can get there early, picnic, and drink wine. If you don’t mind a walk, you can park on Vermont and enjoy the walk to and from the venue. If you’re reading Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend, chances are you’re not the type to leave the show early, so you can take the easy route and commit to the stacked parking option. The venue is beautiful, outdoors, surrounded by trees. The sound is impeccable. I’ve seen some of my favorite shows at The Greek and I’m very excited to share these opportunities with you.
I’m so happy to be working with The Luckman Fine Arts Complex to bring more ticket giveaways your way! I saw India Arie at Luckman Fine Arts Complex last year and the experience was amazing. It’s a beautiful venue with great sound, every seat is a good seat, and there are wonderful indoor and outdoor areas to gather and drink wine (or water) before the show.
Five lucky Rock Is A Girl’s Best Friend readers will each win a pair of tickets to see Nikka Costa, at The Luckman Fine Arts Complex on Saturday, May 12th. Here’s what you need to know to enter:
The contest begins now and ends at 11:59pm EST May 9, 2012
Influenced by classic Motown artists,Nikka Costa has been at the forefront of the jazz, funk, and soul revivals. With roots in Japan, Australia, and Los Angeles, Nikka Costa combines jazz and blues melodies with her ferocious rock & roll vocal style. With a career spanning 30 years, Nikka Costa has collaborated with some of the best in the business including Mark Ronson, Adam Lambert, and Eric Clapton. With these collaborations, among many others, Costa has furthered her synthesis of funk, soul, and contemporary R&B. Costa will grace the Luckman stage and perform songs from her current release PRO*WHOA! along with hits including “Like a Feather” and “Push & Pull.”
The Luckman Fine Arts Complex delivers cutting edge music, dance, and visual arts from around the world to the Los Angeles community. A professional arts entity on the campus of California State University, Los Angeles, located just five miles east of downtown.
Do you know what day it is? I’ve been waiting for this day all year. It’s March 18, 2012 – one quarter of the way through the year – and the night I experienced the first show I’d write about in 2o12.
It’s not that I haven’t experienced a lot of wonderful shows this year; I have. I see live music nearly every night, and I don’t go out with the intention of seeing a shitty show. So, I have experienced some truly amazing concerts in 2012. I wish I had written about some of them. But I haven’t.
Why Puscifer? Because there’s nothing “standard” about it. I’ve seen this show previously, during an earlier leg of the tour. Yet, it feels different every time. I think about that often – musicians who tour around the world on the same, 10-song, “hit” album for 2. . . or 20 years – wondering if they get bored; experiencing, via their shows, that many of them do. Maynard James Keenan and the brilliant musicians who make up Puscifer have no time for boredom. They’re busy setting the stage – literally, metaphorically, physically, and intellectually – for the show to come. The show-to-come follows the hysterical, thought-provoking (sometimes thought-revoking) pre-show, which comes after Carina Round’s opening show, before she joins Puscifer.
Escondido? It makes sense. Maynard James Keenan invites you to go places you’ve never been. Bring your sense of humor or you’ll miss some of the best parts.
It’s not about politics. Puscifer carries with it conversations about ideas. That’s where the fun and creative solutions originate: conversations about ideas, rather than arguments about politics. Puscifer is not about pushing an agenda. It’s not the “I’m a musician and you’re going to pay me a lot of money to use this time as my platform to push something on you” approach. Instead, Puscifer offers you the platform to create new ideas. Puscifer doesn’t insult the intelligence of the audience. You made it to the show – you know what’s up. Or, you don’t know what’s up, but you’re open to exploring ideas.
Puscifer provides a premium sound experience. I don’t know whether there’s any scientific evidence of this, but I’m of the belief that you should never have to wear earplugs at a concert. If the sound is properly mixed and amplified, it consumes you, not your eardrums. I’ve never needed earplugs during any Maynard James Keenan incarnation: TOOL, A Perfect Circle, nor Puscifer. The sound envelops you, rather than hurt your ears. So, as opposed to hearing muffled music through a set of silicon ear plugs or cringing with every drum beat, you feel elevated. You’re able to have a full experience of the show, as intended by its creator. The sound is so consistently exceptional, regardless of venue, that you’re aware of, and grateful for, the intention and effort put forth to make it so.
Yeah. . . I bought a Puscifer hoodie. I’m considering adding an English sub-title on the back of it: “Yes, I paid $65 for this hoodie and it feels like a steal.” We’ve got to support art. We don’t have to agree on which art we appreciate, but it is our responsibility to support the art we do appreciate.
Maynard James Keenan weeds out the cattle. Tonight’s show took place in Escondido. If you’re of the belief – or holding onto hope – that aliens may some day come for you, Escondido is the type of place they may touch-down first. Only those people with a great deal of faith in the process, the adventure, and the outcome, would actually commute to Escondido. It’s just far enough outside the comfort zone of the people who go to a Miike Snow show – not the people who actually like Miike Snow – the far larger population: people who go to a show just because it’s “the place to be” and they have to look cool on Facebook. Puscifer is not for them.
It’s Sunday night. A rock concert and a 2-hr drive, on a ‘school night’?! Puscifer reminds everyone: music doesn’t stop because you have somewhere to be in the future. Your presence is rewarded.
I’m not going to tell you how the show goes, what Maynard wears, nor regurgitate the set list. Puscifer is an experience one should have for themselves. I will tell you this though: he fucks you with his music. Take that any way you like. It’s Puscifer.
” Life is too short NOT to create something with every breath we draw” – Puscifer
Doors: 8:00pm DJ Kevin Bronson (Buzz Bands LA): 8:00pm Little Red Lung: 9:00pm Wires In The Walls: 10:00pm Telstar: 11:00pm
The Mint: 6010 WEST PICO BLVD. LOS ANGELES, CA 90035
The Inspiration: I was on a conference call while driving to a show in downtown Los Angeles, during an unseasonably cold December night. The show was taking place at a venue that was new to me, so I enlisted the help of my vehicle’s GPS to navigate. “Turn left onto South Boyle” the GPS instructed. “Left onto Whittier Blvd” the digital voice continued. “Guys – I’ve gotta go!” I interrupted our conference call and hung up abruptly. My GPS routed me directly through Los Angeles’s Skid Row, one of the largest populations of homeless people in the United States. It’s estimated that more than 4,000 people sleep on the streets of LA’s Skid Row every night.
I didn’t hang up the phone out of fear. I’ve walked through the area at night previously. I hung up the phone out of respect. The content of the phone call was business. It was important. Yet, my mind could not handle the juxtaposition of what I was seeing on the streets with the discussions about business ringing in my ears. There was a van in front of me, driving exceptionally slow. I watched people set up their tents. They have a system. People seem to be well aware of their individual role in the community. During my drive, I witnessed how LA’s homeless population works together as a means to survive. The slow-moving van in my path forced me to take it all in. “Look at what’s happening here. . . This happens every night. . . You need to do something,” thoughts raced through my head. By the time I made my way through the area, I had witnessed a small city being built before my eyes.
Skid Row map
“What can I do, beyond what I’m already doing?” I pondered as I continued to make my way toward the venue. I felt so blessed. . . and so responsible. My life is exceptional. Everything and everyone I’m grateful for sparked in my mind, rapid-fire. I couldn’t keep up with my thoughts. “I just turned up the heat in my car, on my way to a show, to have drinks with friends, and enjoy an amazing night of live music. I need to do something. . . ” So I called upon some of the friends who popped into my mind as I was giving thanks for all that I have and the people who contribute so greatly to my life. “What do you think about doing a benefit concert, in support of LA’s homeless?” I asked. One-by-one, and without hesitation, they agreed.
Also among those I gave thanks for that night is YOU. We’ve shared live music experiences, anecdotes, and #overheard humor here, on Twitter, and YouTube. Many of us have met in person and cultivated friendships that extend well beyond a “like” button. I would love to share this evening with you, my community, as we lend much-needed support to LA’s homeless community. Details about the artists, charity, and venue are below. Tickets are available here: http://www.themintla.com/show/detail/56568 Please share with your friends, invite them to join us. Thank you!
Kevin Bronson of Buzz Bands LA: Kevin and I initially met several years ago at a Buffalo Tom show at The Troubadour. At the time, Kevin was an editor/writer at Los Angeles Times. He knew more about the music scene in Los Angeles than most people I had encountered up to that point. We hung out long after the show ended, talking about music and bands including Mercury Rev, The Shins, and Beachwood Sparks. We’ve been friends ever since. Currently, Kevin heads up BUZZBANDS.LA, an independent website focused on music made and played in and around L.A., offering news, reviews, interviews and song downloads. Buzz Bands has become the go-to source for fans seeking what’s new and who’s cool. Kevin also hosts a weekly radio program on KCSN, Sundays 7pm – 8pm (Pacific Time). If you want to know what’s happening in music before it happens, this is your guy. It’s an honor to have Kevin DJ this event.
LA-based quintet Wires in the Walls explores a textured space between Americana, anthemic indie rock, austere post-punk, and pop. Since the band’s formation in 2009, they have played many of LA’s top venues and toured the east and west coasts, with their well-received 2010 EP “Call Signs” receiving local and national college radio play. Wires in the Walls takes a hands-on DIY attitude to their promotion, including the screen printing of all of their own merchandise. The band spent 2011 writing and recording their debut full-length album New Symmetry, released October 25, 2011. Wires in the Walls is: Warren Sroka (vocals/guitar – NYC), Nick Tracz (bass/vocals – upstate NY), Bryan King (drums/horns – Virginia), Dave Irelan (guitar/vocals – Oregon), & Dave Sicher (everything – Illinois).
“We’re really excited to be a part of this show for a such a good cause. Los Angeles as a whole has been super supportive of us and our music throughout our brief life as a band, and so it’s great to be able to give back in some small way to the larger community. Plus the lineup is fantastic, so it’s like a double-whammy of awesomeness.” Bryan King said when asked about Wires In The Walls’ participation in this event.
They are among my favorite people in the world. Chris Unck, Eva Gardner, and Stew Heyduk (“Telstar”) have “official bios” and credits that include P!nk, Feist, Mars Volta, Butch Walker, and Veruca Salt. Why do I love Chris, Eva, and Stew? They are amazing, kind, supportive, brilliant artists, not constrained by convention. They have a way of simultaneously existing in the past, present, and future, like a living time machine. The energy and spirit of their live shows has been the highlight of nights full of highlights. They’re playful, funny, and experts in creating, as well as participating in, the party. Chris and Eva are also talented visual artists and will be displaying some of their work during the event.
I’ve written quite a bit about their music and live shows, some of which lends insight into the people they are, but none of which can substitute for you experiencing Telstar yourself.
It was during a show at The Mint in 1999 or 2000 that I decided I wanted to work “in music”. There were only 8 or 9 of us at the venue. As I watched an unknown musician play in a nearly empty room, I had a strong feeling he would go on to be quite successful. “If I could get paid to do this. . . to experience music, help support it, and tell people about it. . . ” I resigned from my movie studio job the following week. As soon as the musician finished his set, I approached the man who booked the venue at the time. “Who was that? You need to book him here again,” I said. “I would love to keep booking him, but he doesn’t draw (an audience),” the man responded. “What’s his name?” I pressed. “Jack Johnson,” he replied.
Needless to say, I have a long history with The Mint. It’s a wonderful venue, with a great team of people behind it. You can enjoy a clear line of sight to the stage from nearly any point in the venue. The bar is perfectly situated for optimal efficiency. They have great food. I’ve seen artists including Frank Black, Ben Harper, Jackson Browne, Joan Osborne, and Tom Morello play The Mint.
What I love most about The Mint is the people who work there and their ongoing commitment to the community as a whole. There’s a sense of Southern hospitality at The Mint. If you’re there, you’re family. As an organization, The Mint is dedicated to giving back to the community. They’ve hosted numerous fundraisers and are generously opening their doors to us on Thursday, February 23rd as we come together to lend support to the homeless.
PATH (People Assisting The Homeless): During the last six months of 2011, PATH helped 544 people in need move into permanent housing. PATH’s mission is “To break the cycle of homelessness by empowering people with the tools for self-sufficiency.” They do this by helping homeless individuals and families find work, save money, secure housing, and empower their lives. PATH provides numerous essential services to the homeless including counseling, legal advocacy, housing services, employment and outreach services. All proceeds from the door during our event will be donated to PATH. For more info about PATH, you may check out their fact sheet here: http://www.pathpartners.org/factsheet/files/Fact%20Sheet%20-%20PATH.pdf
[Updated: February 17, 2012]
We are pleased to announce an addition to our line up: Little Red Lung. “Why such high praise? Well, perhaps because vocalist/keyboardist Zoe-Ruth Erwin has seemingly been summoned from the collective wombs of Tori Amos, Amanda Palmer, and Florence Welch with as much artistic depth of her own to gain the type of devoted following each of those women have. Yet there’s something a bit more sinister about the musical magic this band conjures up, a seductive witchery of waltzes that would incite even the most devout crossbearer to do the devil dance. They’re brilliant. The band is releasing free tracks up until the release of their new album through Bandcamp. You need to download them all.”
You will see there are several ways you can enterand you can get additional entries for each thing you choose to do. You can follow Fitz and The Tantrums on Twitter, tweet about the contest, like us on Facebook, and more. ENTER NOW
Winner (1) will be selected by random.org and notified via email on the morning of January 21, 2012. Winner will have 12 hours to respond before a new winner is selected
Your tickets will be available for pick up at Will Call at The Regency Ballroom on the evening of the show. Photo ID will be required to pick up tickets
This is an all-ages event
Transportation and accommodations not included
About Fitz and The Tantrums:
In just a year or so, soulsters Fitz & the Tantrums went from the living room to the main stage. The recipe for meteoric success? Six killer musicians, five dapper suits, irresistible songs, some serendipity and one vintage organ.
Since their first show at Hollywood’s Hotel Café in December 2008, Fitz and co. have toured with Maroon 5, played to thousands at Colorado’s world famous Red Rocks Amphitheatre, shared the stage New Year’s Eve with Sharon Jones and the Dap Kings, and performed on KCRW’s esteemed show, Morning Becomes Eclectic, all this on the strength of their stellar five-song EP, Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1.
For some bands, it takes a lifetime to build this success, but few performers deliver an unrestrained blast of soul-clapping, get-down-on-the-floor, moneymaker shakers like Fitz and the Tantrums. Now post-release of their debut full length, Pickin’ Up the Pieces, which has since earned them a 3 ½ star album review in ROLLING STONE, the troupe is poised to get down in dancehalls across the universe.
It all began when… [cue flashback sounds]
“I got a call from my ex-girlfriend,” Fitz explains, “And she said, ‘My neighbor is moving out in a hurry and has to sell everything. And, he has this organ…”
Fitz, the Svengali frontman of the crew, describes the find like the discovery of a compass, or that treasure map in Goonies, which undoubtedly leads to adventure. Not one to say no, Fitz called some piano movers, cashed in some favors, and seven hours later, the organ went from the curb to his living room. That night, Fitz stationed himself in front of that vintage instrument and wrote a blue-eyed soul anthem, “Breaking the Chains of Love.”
“Sometimes, the Music Gods just give it to you,” Fitz says.
The overflow of inspiration startled Fitz. He’d spent years in L.A.’s music industry, writing music and working in a studio with Beck producer, Mickey Petralia. But at those 88 keys, just seven hours after that organ dropped into his life, Fitz had finally found his voice.
“I’ve always been a singer,” Fitz says, “but with so much music, I felt that I was trying to push a square peg through a round hole. I was being not true to myself, and it never felt right until I wrote that song, and I sang like that. I thought, this feels so real, so natural.”
Fitz shared his vision with long-time friend and saxophonist, James King, who immediately connected with the sound. While the electric guitar drives rock, the saxophone takes center stage in soul, and that’s the way Fitz likes it. “We wanted to find a new vocabulary for the genre, I wanted to make a record without any guitars. Could we make a huge sound with out any guitars?”
A huge sound takes a huge studio–Motown had Studio A in Detroit, Philadelphia International had Sigma Studios, Phil Spector’s Wall of Sound was created in Hollywood’s legendary Gold Star Studios– but when it came time to capture the feeling and the soul of soul, Fitz knew of the perfect studio: his home.
There in the living room, he recorded Songs for a Breakup, Vol. 1, a burst of effervescent swingers and floor-stompers, infused with the energy of long forgotten songs. The infectious, rolling rhythms of “Breaking the Chains of Love,” immediately turns your head and actually get cemented in your brain, like a good pop song should.
The sound is familiar, but distinct. That’s what grabbed the attention of Maroon 5’s Adam Levine. Levine was getting a tattoo in New York when the tattoo artist told him he had to hear this new band he had discovered. After that one encounter, Levine personally invited Fitz and the Tantrums to join their tour.
Like the EP, Fitz recorded the full-length debut back at home, to bottle the lightning that struck in those first jam sessions. He now delves into more acerbic lyrical territory, going on the offensive against gold diggers on the exceptionally funky “MoneyGrabber,” and even gets political on the piano-banging, handclap-driven call to action, “Dear Mr. President.” “L.O.V.” is a jaunt through pop music history embarking with a groovy organ intro, meandering through juicy big band breakdowns and Fitz’s svelte croons, then carrying us away with flute outro. It’s a funk-filled plea to give love a chance. These powerful songs take the band’s energy up a notch, but like their energized performances, they never loose control.
Those blistering performances are now well-chronicled for adequate ubiquity, Last Call With Carson Daly nailing the money shot for “MoneyGrabber” at the band’s sold out show in November at LA’s El Rey Theatre featuring a sea of a thousand pogoing fans and a handful of F.A.T.T. gems rocked along with blue-eyed soul vet, Daryl Hall on the band’s spot on Live From Daryl’s House. Lest we forget, an omnipresent T-Mobile HTC ad that actually namechecks the band that, for the past several months, is impossible not to see if you’re watching even an hour’s worth of television. Oh, and there are the hot spots on Criminal Minds, Desperate Housewives and a great many more, not to mention a ton of success at radio for the aforementioned runaway “MoneyGrabber,” all with the promise of more to come.
In their sound and on the stage, Fitz and the Tantrums are nothing but professionals, and never less than classy. Enter the Tantrums, Fitz’s airtight ensemble keeping it real like it’s 1969. Funky drummer John Wicks is a Motown B-side aficionado and prolific session player, Jeremy Ruzumna manned the keyboards and was musical director for Macy Gray. James King backed De La Soul and bassist Joseph Karnes is a well sought after session player. Then there’s Noelle Scaggs, the powerful voice behind Fitz’s croons. Make no mistake, Scaggs is not just there for “doo-wops” and handclaps. She shimmies and flirts, she stokes the crowd and simmers them down, and she has no qualms about keeping Fitz in check. “She is not just a backup singer,” Fitz says, “We have repartee. Onstage, we’re Ike and Tina.”
There, on the stage, Fitz and the Tantrums are not just a band, they’re an explosion. Scaggs high steps it to the tight-as-hell rhythm section, while Fitz, cooler than cobalt, croons like the aforementioned Mr. Hall for a new generation. It’s obvious that this is no tryst for the band, this is a full-blown, head-over-heels love affair.